The 1980s never went out of style. Never. Even when Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain tried to make you feel bad about the New Coke decade, it was still cool. On Wednesday night, the Sunset Strip slowed to a crawl as Netflix and GLOW held the biggest ’80s-themed party since the Reagan administration for the Los Angeles premiere of the new show that’s already a critical darling.
The pink carpet was rolled out for the stars and creators of the show, and bright pastel hues were everywhere, as a glitter-and-neon-emblazoned GLOW billboard towered over Sunset Boulevard above the ArcLight Cinerama Dome. What better place to screen the first two episodes of the series ahead of its release on Netflix this Friday?
The stars were decked out in their ’80s-themed finery and fans lined the street with homemade GLOW posters, hoping to steal autographs and photos from this show that suddenly has all of Hollywood — hell, all of entertainment — in love with professional wrestling.
None of the people involved in the show could be prouder with the finished product, including star Alison Brie. “For me, this was the role of a lifetime,” she said, when asked how GLOW compared to her other iconic roles in shows like Mad Men, Community, and BoJack Horseman. “I already am just so proud of the work I’ve done here, and I love the material so much. I would put it right at the top.”
Pretty much all of the stars of the show are either fans of the original G.L.O.W. from way back, or they became fans in a hurry after hearing about the project. Best friends Kimmy Gatewood and Rebekka Johnson — who also play best friends in GLOW, in a casting fait accompli, both have vivid memories of watching the show growing up, and are now overjoyed to be part of the fictionalized version. Well, the more fictionalized version, anyway.
“I loved the original G.L.O.W.,” said Gatewood. “I remember specifically, the sketch comedy aspect of it, and I’m a comedian myself, so I was drawn to that aspect of it. And there’s one match that you have got to look it up. One of the characters ended the match by sucking on the other person’s toe, and wouldn’t let go, and the ref’s trying to get her off, and they end up taking both characters off on a stretcher!” She had some belly laughs remembering the match in question. “It was so weird! But it stuck with me.”
Johnson also remembers the shocking nature of the source material. “I actually was a huge fan of G.L.O.W. when I was a kid,” she said. “I used to take piano lessons with a girl down the street. She was like a sixteen-year-old, and then afterwards, I would stay and watch G.L.O.W. It was a Saturday morning piano lesson, and then I’d stay and watch G.L.O.W. And I got the sense that maybe it was something I shouldn’t be watching. I was a little risqué, like ‘Oh, look at Godiva! She’s naked on a horse! This is insane!’”
The show also utilizes a good number of real-life professional wrestlers, both on-screen and off. Alex Riley and John Morrison act in guest starring roles, while Chavo Guerrero trained all of the women before filming began. The wrestler with the biggest role, however, is Kia Stevens, who wrestling fans will know as Amazing Kong, Awesome Kong, or from her time as Kharma in WWE. You would have been hard-pressed to find a bigger G.L.O.W. fan at the premiere.
“I was a kid when it was going on, so I actually believed in everything,” she remembered. “I used to be on an actual hunt for Hollywood and Vine, because I had such a gripe with them, and how dare they treat Americana this way! I thought it was a very inspirational tale of morals and heel and face, and once I understood what wrestling was all about, I had a greater appreciation of [the] characters.”
Stevens said that for her, getting cast in GLOW was the very definition of a childhood dream come true. “I asked Santa Claus if I could be a G.L.O.W. Girl,” she said, “and then right after I did, they canceled the show, and I said there’s no more Santa Claus. He is not real. But Santa Claus is real, because I’m a G.L.O.W. Girl, and he made it come true. Him and baby Jesus!”
Stevens went from being a girl pretending to be a G.L.O.W. Girl in her living room, to being on the GLOW posters that lined the red carpet for the Hollywood premiere. Not too shabby.
And everyone was having the time of their lives on the carpet, including newcomer Britt Baron. “This is my first carpet like this, so this is crazy,” she said, smiling broadly. “I’ve only grown up watching [red carpets] on like entertainment news, so this is my first experience in real life. It’s really crazy and overwhelming, but so exciting at the same time. It’s kind of surreal.”
After spending an hour or two in the unforgiving heat of Southern California on the longest day of the year, fans and celebrities alike snagged popcorn and soda laid out next to on-point vintage advertisements bearing the visage of Max Headroom, then headed into the theatre. Show creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch introduced the first two episodes, which had the ArcLight Dome rocking and rolling, both from the fantastic soundtrack, and from the fact that the show is legitimately hilarious.
After some photo opportunities and high fives in the lobby of the Dome afterward, the majority of the cast and crew trekked a few blocks away to Hollywood Boulevard, where they took in the most spectacular 1980s after-party of all time. Leotard-clad aerobics enthusiasts boogied to a killer ’80s DJ set in front of a “LET’S GET PHYSICAL” neon sign as partygoers made their way inside, where a Conky-style robot cruised the floor, and complimentary vending machines dispensed vintage cassette tapes and packets of Big League Chew.
GLOW managed to bring the 1980s all the way back for one night, and is doing everything it can to tell people that professional wrestling is worth your time. Let’s do it again for season two. You can order your multicolored windbreakers and Lacoste polos now. You’re going to need them.